Rovers Ladies were beaten 5-1 by Sheffield United Women on their return to Women’s Championship action at the Proact Stadium.
It was a dramatic first 45 minutes, with three goals and a red card for Kayleigh McDonald on the stroke of half-time - which proved crucial.
The visitors started the brighter and could have been in front had Natasha Fenton finished a golden opportunity to take the lead.
She was played in by Saffron Jordan but her shot from a tight angle flashed narrowly past the post.
And the Blues would be punished for missed opportunities, as the home side scored against the run of play.
Jade Pennock found space inside the box and clinically finished, slotting the ball under the arms of Fran Stenson.
Pennock scored her, and United’s second, soon after. A good run from Veatriki Sarri was initially stopped by Rovers, but the ball fell kindly for the winger, who found the bottom corner.
Gemma Donnelly’s side were right back in the game when they deservedly got on the scoresheet. It was a brilliant finish from Natasha Flint who found the bottom corner from 25 yards out.
However, McDonald’s straight red card for dissent put Rovers on the back foot for the second-half. And the Blades made that player advantage count straight away.
Katie Wilkinson’s first time finish from Sophie Barker’s cross doubled the home side’s lead.
And Mollie Green found the net from inside the area soon after to make it four.
Flint might have given Rovers a glimmer of hope had her curling effort found the net, rather than dropping the wrong side of the bar.
But the home side were dominant in the second period and could have had more goals if it wasn’t for the diving saves made by Stenson in the Rovers goal.
An fifth goal did come late on. Former Blue Rhema Lord-Mears scored with her first touch after coming off the bench to add insult to injury.
Next up for Rovers it's Charlton Athletic at home on Sunday, (2pm).
ROVERS: Stenson, Jukes, Fenton, Jordan (C), Flint, McDonald (s/o 45), Chambers-Cook, S. Fletcher, Montgomery (Walters 45).
Unused subs: Perry (GK), Beeley, Jones, Dykes.
Referee: Ed Duckworth